The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

March 9, 2014

PIAA wrestling notebook: Murin not pleased with fifth place

Eric Knopsnyder

HERSHEY — Max Murin won the first 36 matches of his varsity career.

But the Central Cambria freshman was disappointed after he dropped two consecutive bouts on Friday night at the PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championships.

He rebounded to pin Chestnut Ridge’s Aaron Burkett in the fifth-place match at 106 pounds on Saturday afternoon, but that was not what he was seeking in Hershey.

“At the end of the day, I wasn’t where I wanted to be,” Murin said. “I thought I had a good season. I wish I would have had a better state tournament.”

Murin, who won District 6 and Southwest Regional titles, plans to use his two losses as motivation.

“I hope me not being where I want to be at the end of the day drives me to do better next season,” he said.

And he doesn’t plan on taking any time to recuperate from the long season, as he is looking to attend a club practice today.

“I think I’m going to Young Guns (today),” he said.


Movin’ on up: Forest Hills’ Triston Law beat Benton’s Mike Stuart 10-0 for fifth place at 120 pounds.

That’s one spot higher than Law finished at 106 last season, but he sees that as progress.

“Bumping up two weight classes is much harder than it was at 106,” the junior said.

Law is looking to follow in the footsteps of his older brother Cody, who won a state championship last season and is now wrestling at Penn State.

“It was a good year,” said Triston Law, who also celebrated his 17th birthday on Saturday.

“I had 34 wins, but I wanted to go undefeated. Cody, his junior year, he got second here and I got fifth. I’m going to win next year, for sure.”


Making history: It’s not easy to break into the history books at Bedford, which has a long and storied wrestling tradition, but Ryan Easter did it on Saturday.

The 132-pounder became the first Bison to win a fourth PIAA medal when he beat Pen Argyl’s Andrew Sutton 3-1 in overtime for seventh place.

“It feels awesome,” Easter said.

Easter, who placed fifth in 2011 and sixth in 2012, did admit that wrestling for seventh was a bit of a letdown after being in the finals last season.

“It was really hard, honestly,” he said. “But you just have to let that go and I focused on my match.”

Garrett Thomas, Easter’s longtime practice partner, finished eighth after a 6-5 loss to Bethlehem Catholic’s Mike Labriola.

“Me and Garrett have been wrestling since we were 6 or 7 years old,” said Easter, who plans to wrestle for Division I Bloomsburg. “He was my drill partner forever. It’s going to be weird not having him.”


Reaching new Heights: Cambria Heights had a pair of state medalists on Saturday, something the Highlanders had not done in more than a decade.

Aaron Gill placed fourth at 285 pounds after a 7-1 loss to Burrell’s Allan Beattie and Levi Niebauer was sixth at 160 after falling 3-0 to Benton’s Jeric Kasunic.

Mike Fowler and Joe Strittmatter each placed in the 2002 tournament while Jody Strittmatter and Rusty Bollinger each did in 1996.

“It’s awesome,” said coach Mike Eckenrode, who also had 126-pounder Joe Davis in the tournament, though he did not place. “The heartbreaker is, we could have had three. But we’ll take two.”


Making history, Part II: Another District 5 drought ended on Saturday, as Meyersdale’s Gavin Berkley brought his school its first medal in 25 years. The 182-pounder finished sixth after a 6-3 loss to Valley’s Terrell Fields.

The Red Raiders had not had a state placewinner since Michael Warnick won gold in 1989.

Brothers Michael and David Warnick each won three PIAA medals – with David claiming two titles – but Jeff Beal was the school’s only other placewinner until Saturday.

“It’s unreal to be in the category of people like the Warnicks and the Beals,” Berkley said. “I grew up looking up to those guys, Michael and David. To be in the same category as them, it’s just an honor to me. It’s a testament to hard work and will. If you put in the time, you can be where you want to be.”



Oliver twist: United’s Tyler Oliver placed seventh at 195 pounds, as he beat Panther Valley’s Mike Nase in his final bout. Oliver finished his junior season with a 33-6 mark.

He went 3-2 in the state tournament and was able to avenge his loss to James Bennett in the Southwest Regional finals by beating the HOPE for Hyndman wrestler on Friday.